Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Taleban commander 'kills himself'

BBC - An Islamic militant leader, wanted for kidnapping two Chinese engineers in Pakistan in 2004, has blown himself up to avoid arrest, Pakistan police say.

Abdullah Mehsud, who spent 25 months in custody at the US base in Guantanamo Bay, died in south-western Balochistan province, a police spokesman said.

Mehsud, whose real name was Noor Alam, was a Pashtun, the same ethnic group as the Taleban of Afghanistan.

He fought for the Taleban against the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.

Pakistan interior ministry spokesman Javed Cheema told the AFP news agency that Mehsud blew himself up with a hand grenade after soldiers raided a hideout in Zhob district of south-western Balochistan.

"Abdullah Mehsud blew himself up with a grenade and died when security forces raided his hideout. Three of his accomplices were arrested," he said.

A local police official Atta Mohammed told the Associated Press news agency that no military personnel were wounded by the explosion.

Mehsud was wanted for kidnapping two Chinese engineers, one of whom was killed, in South Waziristan in 2004.

Analysts say the kidnapping was an attempt to secure the release of al-Qaeda militants held during army operations in South Waziristan.

Since his return from Guantanamo Bay, Mehsud became a hero to anti-US fighters active in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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